The Political “Giving” by Your Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes

Today, households throughout the country are gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving and fill their plates with the holiday’s classic dishes. While everyone has their own favorites, it’ll be hard to find a table lacking turkey, potatoes, stuffing and some variation of cranberries.

This year, the industries behind those classics had their plates full with political influence, whether it’s funding midterm campaigns or lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. Here’s a breakdown of how these foods spent their money in 2018.


The centerpiece of a Thanksgiving meal — the turkey — is represented on Capitol Hill by the National Turkey Federation. The interest group represents a number of notable turkey processors and distributors, such as Butterball Turkey, Foster Farms and Tyson Foods.

In 2018, The Federation gave $314,050 to turkey-friendly candidates and PACs and favored Republican candidates. Republicans received $200,500 while Democrats received $113,550.

The National Turkey Federation spent $110,000 so far in 2018 on lobbying for turkey interests. In the past, the group has lobbied on issues involving safe and accurate food labeling and the use of antibiotics and other drugs on animals.


Whether they’re mashed, sweet or roasted, the National Potato Council looks out for all things spud in Washington.

During the 2018 midterms, the Council spent $77,750 only on candidates, and slightly more went to Republicans. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) received $10,000, more than any candidate.

The National Potato Council directs more of its political spending toward lobbying. In 2018, the group has so far spent $195,000. Those funds have been directed toward bills on rural emergency service needs, pesticide registration and the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.


Moving on to another mainstay on Thanksgiving plates: stuffing. While everyone has a different take on the dish, one of the most popular store-bought stuffing options is Stove Top stuffing from Kraft Heinz Co.

This election cycle, Kraft Heinz gave $150,356 to party committees and candidates. Republicans received over 50 percent more from Kraft than Democrats, and the company gave Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) $12,500, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) $5,500 and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) $5,400.

So far in 2018, Kraft Heinz spent $740,000 on lobbying efforts.


Cranberries are a classic staple that appears in many forms on a Thanksgiving table. And Ocean Spray Cranberries is one of the main beneficiaries of this tart fruit’s high demand during this time of year.

In the 2018 cycle, Ocean Spray spent $141,052 on candidates and leadership PACs, and more than half of that went to Democrats. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. Thomas MacArthur (R-NJ) both received the most from the berry brand at $10,000 a piece.

Ocean Spray spends more of its financial efforts on lobbying. So far in 2018, the company spent $300,000 lobbying on agriculture spending bills that would fund antibiotic and USDA cranberry research.